Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

This is the sixth in a series of Trek Tuesday posts counting down to the next Star Trek movie set to be released this May.  Be sure to check out Shannon, the Movie Moxie, for her posts (she started the countdown) and feel free to jump in and play along or leave some comments.

This was the first Star Trek movie that I can distinctly remember being released in theatres.  We didn’t go to see it, but I can remember watching an episode of an entertainment show (like Entertainment Tonight perhaps?) that had a feature on Iman starring in the movie and the makeup, costume, etc.  It’s one of the movies that I’ve watched the most, so I don’t feel quite so guilty about falling asleep when my husband and I tried to watch this (in my defense, we started the movie after 11pm).

To me, this film is reminiscent of a Shakespearean history play.  Though, I’m not sure if that’s because of several of the prominent Shakespearean quotes.  It also is very political in its themes.  It deals briefly with sustainability and, luckily for me, has some brief hints of Spock’s vulcan mysticism.  More importantly, this is a pivotal movie that deals with the fundamental transition of the Federation and Star Fleet from a militaristic tradition, to more of a diplomatic and scientific role.  This is a very important distinction for any fan of both Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation, because the flavour of Star Fleet is quite different between the two series.

The movie is a defining moment in history for the Star Trek universe because the Federation is faced with a situation in which one of their greatest enemies is brought to its knees by an outside crisis.  Now they have to decide what the correct response is . . . compassion or ruthlessness?

Upon re-watching (the first bit of) the movie, I also really appreciated the cultural blending and borrowing that occurs.  Spock comments on a Vulcan proverb that only Nixon could go to China and the Klingons in the movie like to quote Shakespeare and claims that it is best enjoyed in its ‘original Klingon.’  It’s quite noticeable in the movie but it reminded me of how much it happens in our world as well. 

I think one of the best quotes that wraps up the fundamental choices facing the characters of the movie is the line from Hamlet quoted in the movie “to be or not to be.”  They are dealing with the future of two races/cultures.  One race, their very continued existence hangs in the balance.  For both, they also need to consider the manner in which they are going to move forward and their culture integrity.

Cool Science/Tech:

This movie didn’t really feature much cool science/technology.  The closest is an honourable mention for the tracking device Spock plants on Kirk that the Klingons don’t pick up on, but that allows Spock to track Kirk down wherever he may be.

Fun Facts:

  • Let’s just take a moment and review some of the cast in this movie: Iman, Christian Slater*, Brock Peters*2 (the actor who will eventually play Ben Sisko’s father on Deep Space Nine), Kim Cattrall (Sex in the City), Michael Dorn*3, Christopher Plummer, Rene Auberjonois*4
  • I’m not sure where or when I heard this, but the original Klingon language that was invented didn’t have the ‘be’ verb, because Klingons are all about action.  So, they had to invent a new word so that they could translate the line “to be or not to be” into Klingon.

*He doesn’t get an actual name for this movie, he’s just Excelsior’s Communication Officer.

*2 Here he’s reprising his role as Admiral Cartwright, but he also plays Ben Sisko’s father in Deep Space Nine.

*3 The Klingon defense lawyer, whom they named ‘Colonel Worf’

*4 One of the Star Fleet brass who will later play Deep Space Nine’s Odo
P.S. I love the ability to schedule posts.  At the time that you’re reading this, I’m actually vacationing with my lovely sister in New York!  We’re probably watching the St. Patrick’s Day parade wrap up right now.

1 comment:

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

It's so awesome that you could schedule to post this at a later date - awesome!

I also enjoyed the all the cultural references, as well as the themes of possible 'ism's'. I think it took a lot of nerve to look at the Federation from the perspective of 'outdated' and 'human nature' being a not very pc term.

Good call on all the cameos! I love when you get to see Worf! I didn't pick up on the Rene Auberjonois/Odo one - I didn't see it! Must revisit... again!